Immediacy, improvisation, bodily presence, and an embrace of fleeting moments. These were some of the qualities championed by the American poet Allen Ginsberg, who famously advocated “first thought, best thought” for developing forms of written expression uninhibited by literary hang-ups or self-doubt. Ginsberg’s embrace of immediacy also ran through much of the art of the time, which similarly eschewed rationality, convention, and anxieties regarding style in favor of risk-seeking and improvisation. Today, in a world where almost everything feels mediated to some extent, the pursuit of expression based on “first thought, best thought” might, at best, seem romantic.
Yet the phrase continues to capture imaginations to this day, despite often being misunderstood by those who assume that thoughts and words are one and the same. In poetry, the method of composition using “first thought, best thought” consists of noting an image or emotion in words after it manifests itself in one’s mind. It implies finding the right language to communicate a charged flash of awareness, whatever that moment might be, whether joy or anguish, awe or despair. In the visual arts, “first thought, best thought” entails letting go of the conditioned mind and harnessing the first moment of perception, before it is colored by judgment or interpretation. The “first thought” is the “best thought” because it has not yet been clouded by our opinions and interpretations, our hopes and fears, our likes and dislikes.
This exhibition brings together the work of four artists which, in different ways, harness the powerful immediacy of the first thought. Alejandro Piñeiro Bello’s vibrant watercolors and monumental paintings offer direct and unmediated glimpses into the artist’s personal thoughts and feelings; in his own words, they are akin to “mediations where [he does not] control the images that appear.” Working in oil, Miguel Alejandro Machado Suárez channels a range of pictorial styles, and mixes comic elements with historical references, to convey scenes that are at once seductive, haunting, visceral and cerebral. In her abstract works, Sabrina Pohl draws on an intuitive use of forms to capture the sensations of experiencing nature with an open state of mind. Through painting and photography, Jack Irv captures the darker and more subversive aspects of the first thought; his candid images implore us to override our drives toward self-censorship and challenge our comfort zones.
Harnessing the freedom and spontaneity that stems from the first thought, The Love You’s inaugural exhibition embodies many of the gallery’s core principles. Founded out of a desire to offer artists a space to show their work free from restrictions or restraints, The Love You aims to unsettle the stale conformity that has become all too synonymous with commercial art galleries. More specifically, it strives to respect the agency of the artists it represents and to ensure that inspiration and innovation does not get watered down. Both The Love You and the artists shown together at "First Thought" seek to free the “best thought” from all inner doubts, qualms, and reservations; together, they celebrate the exhilaration, courage and conviction that comes out of spontaneous and unbridled creativity.